Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghost Story

It Was Only a Dream

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I think we have a ghost.

It's just a little one, a cat I think. It jumps up on the bed and slowly creeps up until it reaches my back, then settles down. The stealthy footsteps and weight feel quite distinct, though no impressions are left in the bedding.

When it first happened I thought Gatsby had gotten in, but when I sat up to shoo him off nothing was there.

I started keeping a camera by the bed and tried to sneak a photo whenever I sensed a visitor, but I never caught anything. I quit because the flash terrified poor Gatsby on the rare occasions when it really was him.

I should be totally freaked out but, strangely enough, I'm not. Still, I do wish it would move on the big sandbox in the sky.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nature Notes: Rare Robin

So there we were, eating dinner at the kitchen table, when dozens of robins descended on the back yard to hunt worms. Having rather poor vision, it took me a few minutes to figure this one out.

Me: "Either one of those birds is carrying around a slice of bread, or its head is stuck in something ... maybe a white plastic lid? Wait ... robins don't eat bread."

Grabbing the binoculars, I discovered the flash of white was actually the color of the bird:

By the time I ran upstairs, changed the camera lens, and got back downstairs my quarry had wandered out of range. Fearing I'd scare off the whole lot of them, I snapped a desperation shot through the slider door. When I opened the door they did scatter, so this is the best I got.

And off we go to Google robins with white heads, resulting in this excellent article from

The little guy has a condition called leucism, not the same as albinism: "The condition probably develops while the bird grows in its egg. The gene that controls skin-pigment cells called melanocytes turns on in some cases, but fails in others. The result is partially normal coloring with patches of white."

Only one bird in thousands is affected. It doesn't harm the bird's health, but it does put a serious crimp in his love life and makes him more conspicuous to predators.

Rare they may be, but luckier photographers have taken lots of much better pictures. You can check them out at Google Images.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nature Notes: First Frost

Outback in Autumn

Wow ... I missed most of a season change here, didn't I?

Summer faded into fall, the leaves turned to glory and are falling fast.

First Frost

A new groundhog took up residence under the deck and polished off every petunia and chrysanthemum blossom in the containers out there. And this morning, the first hard frost put a merciful end to the ragged stumps he left behind.


He's too cute to shoot, but I certainly am tempted.

The hummingbirds are long gone, but the bluebirds are lingering. Juncos have returned, and chickadees are raiding the feeder in earnest, stashing seeds in the bark of surrounding trees against the winter to come.

It's apple season, and pumpkin season, and almost Halloween. I love, love, love the fall, when Mother Nature is at the top of her game.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.